Bharat Ratna : For the Asking


Bharat Ratna

  Who should get Bharat Ratna?

     Lal Krishna Advani thought he was being smart and clever when he broke the convention and proposed the name of his long time friend and colleague Atal Behari Vajpayee for being bestowed with a Bharat Ratna.

     After all BR is normally bestowed on politicos who have died or have been consigned to oblivion. He must have hoped that by writing a letter to the government recommending the case of his old friend he would indicate to the BJP and the world that he has replaced Vajpayee (who refuses to retire) at the helm of affairs.

     But alas, With BJP in front can others be left behind?So follows the demand from the Red Brigade for a BR to Jyoti Basu.

     Another demand from Madame Mayawati who has been itching to take on the Congress. She wants a BR for ‘Manyawar’.

    It is only a matter of time before Karunanidhi’s minions demand a BR for him.That will be followed by one for, Lalu Prasad, Jaya Lalitha.

       Bestowing the BR has always been a political decision.

     Let us wait and see how this will be handled.

Poll freebies on sale in Tamil Nadu


Poll freebies on sale in Tamil Nadu .

     The free television sets that his government has been doling out to the masses are finding their way to shops and godowns for as little as Rs 2,000.


     This has prompted the chief minister to direct the Tamil Nadu DGP to crack down on the sale and purchase of these colour TV sets. “It’s an offence to either sell or purchase these TVs,” senior DMK minister K. Anbazhagan says.

     Rival Jayalalithaa thinks that in a state battered by rain and floods, basic amenities are a must, not TV sets. “It’s an act of deceiving the people.” Most of the families already have a TV set, so the second one, even if it comes for free, is a real burden. No wonder these are being sold off,” she adds in an I-knew-it vein.

     With freebies on sale becoming a headache for the government, it is searching for means to make it sure that the beneficiaries of the Free Colour Television Sets Scheme actually catch their favourite programmes on these rather than make fast bucks.
Apart from Madurai and Salem, the sets are finding their way to shops even in Cheppakam, the chief minister’s constituency.

      “We already have a TV in our house. It’s better to sell the one supplied by the government,” is the standard refrain of people in Chindatripet here.


Chennai police commissioner Nanchil Kumaran warns that purchasing the television sets from beneficiaries will attract provisions of the notorious Goondas Act.
    
     Of the plethora of freebies announced by the DMK in its 2006 election manifesto, TV and rice at Rs two a kg were believed to have provided the winning edge to the party over rival AIADMK. Accordingly, these are provided to select beneficiaries in each district every month.

     Till last December 13, the government doled out 2,448,698 TV sets. The 2007-’08 financial allotment for purchasing 30 lakh TV sets is Rs 750 crore.
    

“Instead of fulfilling basic needs of the people like building good roads and proper school buildings, the government is repeatedly saying it would carry on with the TV scheme,” Jayalalithaa says. “Most of the households have television sets. An extra set is a burden to keep at home.”
An AIADMK legislator’s father and other relatives, though, have been beneficiaries under this scheme in Erode district.
     Undeterred by the criticism, Karunanidhi maintains that in each of the 234 Assembly constituencies, 10,000 TV sets will be provided.

 Actor-turned-politician Vijaykant’s charges that the scheme lacks transparency.

Property worth crores gutted in Kolkata fire


Property worth crores gutted in Kolkata fire
KOLKATA: More than 2,500 shops were gutted and property worth crores destroyed in a devastating fire that broke out in Burrabazar, one of the busiest commercial hubs in the heart of the city, early Saturday morning.However, there were no casualties in the fire that started from a house at 2 am on Jamnalal Bajaj Street and soon engulfed nearby buildings and commercial establishments housing cloth and tarpulin shops in the area, Fire Minister Pratim Chatterjee said.He said that at least 40 fire-tenders were pressed into service but “they’re struggling to douse the flames after almost nine hours”.

“We don’t know how long it would take to bring the fire under control. Actually, shortage of water supply and power cut in the area have hampered the fire-fighting operation,” the Minister said.

Though the actual cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, Chatterjee said that a high-level committee would soon be set up to probe the incident.

Police: Overtime Bills


This bit of news might be of interest to the Police personnell in the sub continent

Anger as paperwork mountain sees police overtime bill soar to £412million

By JAMES SLACK –  Last updated at 22:51pm on 11th January 2008 Red tape: Overtime costs £3,000 per officerPolice officers were paid £412million in overtime last year – more than ten times what the Government saved by refusing to back-date their pay rise.

       The astonishing bill, which has more than doubled since Labour came to power, piled further pressure on Jacqui Smith. The Home Secretary saved around £40million by not backdating a 2.5 per cent police pay offer to September.

      But critics said she could have saved far more by reducing bureaucracy to cut the overtime bill – without alienating huge numbers of rank-and-file officers.

      The Government employs 14,000 more police than ten years ago, which should have led to the overtime bill going down as the workload was shared out. But instead average payouts have spiralled from £1,500 per officer to nearly £3,000 last year.

      One force, Northumbria, paid its officers almost £5,000 each. In contrast, the pay rise being held back by Miss Smith is worth less than £20 per officer. Officers are threatening to ballot for strike action over the dispute and a rally is due to take place in London later this month.

          Conservative police spokesman David Ruffley said: “This overtime is being used to do ever more paperwork. “Red tape on our police is increasing and it is wrong that police spend more time on paperwork than on patrol.

      ” Other factors behind the rise include antiterror operations and officers being forced to guard convicts in station cells because there is no room in prison.

     Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Political meddling and mismanagement of the police is costing the taxpayer dearly. “Understaffing, excessive red tape and being forced to plug the holes in the prison service are all taking their toll.

      “People want the police to be able to catch criminals and keep people safe – instead, crime is rising and police are paying record amounts of overtime just to try to keep up with the Government’s demands.

     ” Alan Gordon, vice chairman of the Police Federation, said: “The increase is so substantial that the main link is likely to be with the increased pressures being placed on the service, particularly the fight against terrorism.

      “That is a colossal commitment. If police are away from their normal duties to police the transport infrastructure and that sort of area, overtime will be used to try meet these demands.”  

       But he added that bureaucracy was also a factor, with arrests taking longer than ever to process. This leads to officers having to stay on duty beyond their shift. Mr Gordon added:  “There is an awful lot of concern about the exorbitant hours that officers are being expected to work because of the increased demands. “A lot say, ‘We do not want to work all this overtime, we want a work-life balance’.

     ” The latest figures show police are spending more time than ever filling in forms. Some 19.7 per cent of their working day is spent on bureaucracy such as filing crime reports, preparing for court, writing letters and sending memos.

He added that the Home Office was always looking for ways to reduce bureaucracy, such as providing £50million for hand-held mobile data devices for officers.

FBI’s phone tap cut off because of unpaid bill


This bit of news might be of interest. Ed

     A US government audit has revealed that a telephone company cut off an FBI international wiretap after the agency failed to pay its bill on time.

     The audit by the Justice Department’s inspector general faulted the FBI for poor handling of money used in undercover investigations, which it said made the agency vulnerable to theft and mishandled invoices.

      It cited the case in which a wiretap under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which governs electronic spying in terrorism and intelligence cases, was disrupted due to an overdue bill.

     “Late payments have resulted in telecommunications carriers actually disconnecting phone lines established to deliver surveillance results to the FBI…”, the audit said.

     This resulted in evidence being lost, including one instance where “intercept information” required by a FISA order had to be stopped, it added

Road Safety: VIP parents and dangerous drivers


     Delhi Traffic Police has commenced a drive against drunk driving. It is hoped this will bring incidents of drunk driving and resultant accidents down. However VIP brats are in a class of their own. Ed  

VIP parents make them dangerous drivers.

By Kumar Vikramin New Delhi

     THE SONS of the powerful can be a public hazard when behind the wheel.

     On Wednesday night, traffic policemen prosecuted the son of a Congress MP and the son of an IPS officer.
     Both were intercepted by a patrolling team at Humayun Road near the Khan Market area after their vehicles had jumped the lights.
     In another case, a drunk driver almost crashed into the deputy commissioner of police (DCP). The car belonged to the Punjab government.
     A total of 60 prosecutions were made as part of the traffic police’s ‘Operation Chakravyuh’.
     A traffic police officer said, “The IPS officer’s son told police his father was B. Pullat, who is now retired. He came over and started screaming. His mouth was stinking as he was heavily drunk. We told him he was caught for jumping the lights and for drink-driving. But he was not ready to give in.”
     He was taken to the traffic police van and asked to go take the breathalyser test.
The reading on the alcometer was 175 ml; the prescribed limit is 30 ml. “We wonder how he managed to drive,” said the officer. “He was fined.”
     The other offender was Rishi Pal, son of parliamentarian Manvendra Singh, scion of a Mathura-based royal family. “The man who got down from the car talked in a haughty manner,” said the officer.
     “He threatened the policemen and flashed his swanky mobile phone. He got into an argument with police and said he belonged to the royal family of Mathura. His father Manvendra Singh is an MP from Mathura. The two personal security officers provided to the MP were also with Pal.” Pal too also fined.
    When Manvendra Singh was contacted, he said, “I am in Mathura and have no knowledge of the matter.”
    Also on Wednesday night, the DCP and other team members had a narrow escape when a car which was asked to stop was hit by another Hyundai car from behind.

      The traffic police officer said, “The purpose of Operation Chakravyuh is to keep a vigil over cars with VIP number plates which flout traffic rules routinely. Police keep a watch over such vehicles between 11.30 p.m. to 2.30 am. The operation will go on at least till the month end.”
kumar.vikram@mailtoday.in

Top RTI defaulter MCD to pay Rs 2 lakh fine


    Top RTI defaulter MCD to pay Rs 2 lakh fine

     CAPRG has been using the  RTI for obtaining information from government departments. While some information is made available most of it kept out of public view. All attempts are made to scuttle the RTI. 

     Extracts of MCD antics 

     When it comes to dubious distinctions, Delhi’s civic agencies are always at the forefront.
     This time, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has come right on top. It has invited the maximum number of penalties from the Central Information Commission (CIC), making it the biggest defaulter in RTI cases.

      Of the 88 penalties imposed by the CIC so far, 23 are against the MCD babus. The Delhi government and the Delhi Development Authority figure on the defaulters’ list too, though with fewer cases.


     The fine amount ranges between Rs 1,000 and Rs 25,000. The MCD’s penalty amount has totalled up to Rs 226,000.
     Penalties have been imposed on babus most frequently for delay in providing information to an applicant. If a person files an RTI application, the department concerned has to provide information within 30 days. For every single day’s delay after that, a penalty of Rs 250 is imposed. Cases where misleading information has been provided to the applicants have also invited penalties for the officials concerned.
Delhi was one of the first places in the country to implement the RTI Act. Yet, departments are not serious about providing information to the people.
      “In all cases in which penalties are imposed, the departments and officials concerned take the plea that they are not aware of the Act. That can’t be true for Delhi. The Capital has had the RTI Act for more than seven years now and officials of the MCD and other agencies have to be aware,” said chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah.

       He pointed out that agencies like the MCD and the DDA are involved in a lot of day-to-day public dealings and consequently receive a larger number of RTI applications than other departments.
     
kavita.chowdhury@mailtoday